LUCKNOW: For lakhs of cancer patients in India and possibly those abroad, the hope for a chemical-free treatment emanates from a laboratory in the Banaras Hindu University. In a path-breaking research that may free cancer patients from the trauma and rigours of chemical-based prolonged treatment, researchers of the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics of Institute of Science, BHU, have developed a nano particle to kill cancer cells using a green, biogenic method without involving any chemical.
The particle, developed by incubating a banana leaf with silver nitrate with help of secondary metabolites present in banana, may prove to be a potent tool to combat cancer in the near future. “After getting the nano particle, it was further characterised by using electron microscopy, scanning electroscopy, transmission, and X-ray diffraction to ensure that the particle developed was actually a nano particle as there is a certain range of size for a particle to be qualified as a nano particle,” says Dr Geeta Rai, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular & Human Genetics, Institute of Science, BHU, who supervised the entire research.
The team comprising Khusbhu Priya as the key researcher assisted by Dolli Das, Sakshi Singh and Hirakjyoti Das, took around a year’s time to conduct the entire research.The researchers say when the cancer cells were incubated with silver nano particles, around 40-45 per cent of them were destroyed in 24-48 hours. The group of cancer cells, which were not incubated with silver nano particles, remained unhurt and went on to proliferate further.
On the contrary, when non-cancerous peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) cells were incubated with the silver nano particles, they did not undergo cell death and remained unaffected.While establishing the fact that cancer cells get destroyed in the presence of silver nano particles, the researchers found that higher the concentration of the nano particles, more is the number of dead cancer cells. These particles mainly strike the mitochondria of cancer cells.
“Since, we had to be doubly sure of our work, so we conducted repeated trials on tumour cells received from patients. On getting similar results, we went ahead to apply for the patent of the nano particles almost a year back,” says the assistant professor. “Soon, we are going to make a publication of our work showing the mechanism by which silver nano particles kill only the cancer cells and not the normal blood cells.”
In future, this particle could be developed into an alternative to beat cancer but only after adequate clinical trials.